Feeds

Drone nerve centre malware was Mafia Wars' infostealer

Don't panic - it was only the weapons and spy systems infected

Top three mobile application threats

More details have emerged on how systems ground systems that control US military drones came to be infected by malware.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the US Air Force said that "standalone systems on Creech Air Force Base, Nevada" had been infected with malware. "Credential stealing" software was discovered in September on portable hard drives and traced back to a standalone mission support network:

The infected computers were part of the ground control system that supports RPA operations. The ground system is separate from the flight control system Air Force pilots use to fly the aircraft remotely; the ability of the RPA pilots to safely fly these aircraft remained secure throughout the incident.

Ground control systems refer to those that control the weapons and surveillance functions of drones, arguably worse than infecting the piloting systems. Air force officials said that the malware, whatever system it infected, posed no threat to the operation of unmanned Reaper drones.

Colonel Kathleen Cook, spokeswoman for Air Force Space Command, said: "The detected and quarantined virus posed no threat to our operational mission and that control of our remotely piloted aircraft was never in question."

But how did credential stealing malware get on the infected drives in the first place?

The type of malware associated with the outbreak is "routinely used to steal log-in and password data from people who gamble or play games like Mafia Wars online" an anonymous defence official told Associated Press. The official omitted to explain "why drone crews were playing Mafia Wars or similar games during their overseas missions", noted Noah Shachtman, the journalist who broke the story.

Gaming security expert Chris Boyd, of GFI Software, said that the source must have been talking generally or referring to something targeting Facebook logins if Mafia Wars is actually involved, simply because you play Mafia Wars via your Facebook account. The malware might have been a phishing toolbar (such as this).

"Those toolbars target games such as Mafia Wars, yet they're attempting to steal Facebook logins through phishing pages," Boyd told El Reg. Facebook is a popular target for malware, but it's difficult to be more specific about the malware involved unless more information is released." ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Canadian taxman says hundreds pierced by Heartbleed SSL skewer
900 social insurance numbers nicked, says revenue watchman
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
Burnt out on patches this month? Oracle's got 104 MORE fixes for you
Mass patch for issues across its software catalog
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
Oracle working on at least 13 Heartbleed fixes
Big Red's cloud is safe and Oracle Linux 6 has been patched, but Java has some issues
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.